~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Chicken Meatballs(Chiftelute)....

Chicken Meatballs(Chiftelute)....My nephew and nieces are coming for a visit, so I decided to make these meatballs for them. The kids only have these meatballs at Grandma's house...I know they won't be the same. That's because my mom always had a pinch of her love added to it, which makes it all the more harder to replicate. This recipe comes from my wonderful mom, who lovingly made these for us while growing up. We devoured them...and still do! A long time ago, my mom used to make them using beef, but she later changed them to chicken. It was a hit!... and she never went back to using beef again. Seasonings and amounts are my additions. This is my attempt at copying her recipe.
These are Romanian meatballs, so don't expect them to be like the American version. They are good though! Kids love them! You can stuff them in pita bread and pour some yoghurt sauce or eat them as an appetizer dipped in your favorite sauce. My mom would also cook them in a tomato based sauce(chiftelute marinate) that was delicious over mashed potatoes/rice/pasta. But, here is my version...
I usually grind my meat. But, feel free to use store bought ground chicken. I have used turkey meat, with different results though,... yet, still delicious.

You will need:this will give you about 50 golf size meatballs...not perfectly round.
3 lbs chicken thigh meat(dark meat),ground
2 tsps onion powder
1/4 cup grated onion
1 small garlic clove, grated
1 TBS kosher salt, or to taste
2 tsps dried parsley(or 3 tsps fresh)
2 slices white bread*
3 TBS milk, or enough to soak bread
2 large eggs
Some flour (for dusting/rolling the meatballs)
oil for frying
* feel free to use some mashed potato instead for a gluten-free option

Grind meat (I used dark thigh meat) and set aside in a large bowl.
Get your seasoning ready. In a small bowl place sliced bread and pour milk over the bread.
Let the bread soak up the milk and mix it to get a paste like consistency. Now, I have also used dry breadcrumbs as well and skipped the milk(because I didn't have any on hand) and they still came out. But, I prefer the sliced bread option, so that is why I used it in this post. I am just giving you an alternative. Set aside. To the ground chicken meat, add seasoning, parsley, grated onion, and garlic.
Add the milk bread paste and two eggs.
Mix completely using your hands or a heavy spoon. I usually let the mixture sit for a while in the fridge while I clean up....this helps the meat to firm up a bit.
In a small bowl add some flour( oh, I'd say about 1 cup...you can always add some later if you need extra). Take about a tablespoon size chunk of the meat mixture and place it in the flour roll it around and shape into a ball using floured hands....try not to compact the mixture too much. Just lightly roll it in a ball.
Place on a plate or a cookie sheet( I like to place a wax piece of paper on it before). Your hands will get sticky...just wash and flour them again. Continue making all the meatballs.
I like to fry the meatballs using a large pot so this way the oil splattering will be minimized. You can use a skillet , if you prefer. My mom always used a skillet. Pour enough oil to about 1 inch....you can pour some more if you like. Dust off excess flour from the meatballs before placing them in the oil. You will notice that as the meatballs sit on the wax paper, they will probably absorb some of the flour. They might stick...just lift them up using a flat spatula and they will be ok....if need be, roll the meatballs into a bit more flour and dust off the excess flour.
Place meatballs in the hot oil and fry until golden . Turn them over and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with spicy ketchup or any sauce you like. Stuff them in pita bread with some yoghurt sauce. Mix them with same marinara sauce...etc. They freeze very well....just reheat in the toaster oven at 450 until hot.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Avocado Dip, Sauce....

Avocado Dip/Sauce(Budget Friendly)... This recipe was actually inspired by another recipe that I saw online. It said it was a copycat of El Pollo Loco avocado sauce...So because I just happened to have one lonely avocado sitting around, I instantly grabbed it and proceeded to try the recipe...I couldn't leave well enough alone and tweaked it a bit to suit my taste. This was the result...and I actually liked it. Now, we don't have El Pollo Loco around.... we did eat there a few times,but its been way too long to actually remember what it tasted like. Nevertheless, I thought it was quite budget friendly...plus, it goes a pretty long way. It is perfect as an accompaniment to many dishes...soft tacos, nachos, grilled chicken, burritos,etc. You can definitely play around with the level of spiciness,make it more garlicky(I prefer not to overpower it though), add some cumin, add some chipotle powder...You can add some sour cream and make it totally something else. I thought I would share this easy recipe ....hope you too will like it!

You will need:

1 large avocado(good quality,Hass)

1 jalapeno

1 garlic clove(sliced)

1 handful cilantro

lime juice



chile flakes (optional)

1-1 1/2 cups water

Directions: Wash and cut jalapeno into quarters.Take the seeds out. My jalapeno wasn't so spicy. Blacken the jalapeno on a hot dry skillet. I like to press on them, with a flat spatula, so that the jalapeno gets charred on most of the surface. I turn them over and blacken both sides.

Cut avocado and scoop the flesh into a food processor bowl. Add the cilantro, jalapeno, garlic salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of water.

Process till fine and smooth. Add additional water to make it a thinner. This is where you can leave it thicker in consisiteny if you like or add some more water to make it thinner. For mine, I added the full 1 1/2 cups. Season again with some salt(if needed) and some lime juice. If it isn't spicy enough, you can add some chile flakes.

You can leave the avocado seed in the sauce and it won't turn brown on you.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cedar Plank Fish (Wild Sockeye Salmon, Wild Mahi-Mahi...)

Cedar Plank Fish (Wild Sockeye Salmon, Wild Mahi-Mahi...).... Ok, I think I may be outdated on this version of cooking fish. I know, I know, cooking fish on a cedar plank was like so totally yesterday!:) But, Costco had a great deal on these planks, so I grabbed them and finally did a couple of dinners using the cedar plank. I like the fact that you don't have to worry about heating up your oven during the summer months. Plus, the cedar plank keeps the fish quite moist. So for that reason alone, I would recommend it! I liked the fact that you can vary your seasonings to what you like and care for...I tried 2 versions using 2 types of fish. I preferred the salmon over the Mahi-Mahi...I don't exactly know why. Maybe it was just me...and not the fish! I grilled my fish on medium heat and got a decent amount of smoking. I didn't taste the smoke flavor in the fish that much(though the Mahi-Mahi was a bit more smoke flavored)...I don't know, maybe it is a good thing if you don't like the smoke flavor. I suppose if you want a stronger smoke flavor, you would probably need to heat it on high and watch for flare-ups. I didn't have to deal with my plank catching fire. Overall, I would do the cedar plank again...I loved the fact that the fish was definitely moist and was quite easy to do. Perfect for company(that is, if they care for fish:)!
You will need:
1 long fillet of fish(preferably salmon...though you can use other fish)
1 cedar plank, soaked for at least 2 hours
Seasoning to include: any or some to your taste
lemon/lime slices
chipotle powder
Place the cedar plank in the sink and pour enough water to fully immerse the plank. You may need to weigh it down, if it floats. Let it sit in the water for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Season your fish with salt and pepper...use any other seasoning you like. I chose to use some dried dill with the Mahi-Mahi and some chipotle powder with the salmon. I also added some chopped garlic, butter and cilantro to the salmon. I squeezed some lime juice over it as well.
Remove plank from the water and pat dry. Add a bit of oil and salt all over the plank. Place fish skin side down. Grill on med-low for 20-40 minutes depending on thickness. Just test and see that the fish flakes easily.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bread Cones

Bread Cones.... I came across this recipe a few weeks ago and I bookmarked it immediately! As you well know by now, I just love trying out new bread recipes. The idea of bread cones...now that is ingenious! I thought it was the neatest thing ...we actually have a sandwich shop in town called the Staggering Ox. It sells all sorts of sandwiches made out of hollowed out bread. The bread is baked in cans and the inside is scooped out. It is then filled with various fillings. So when I came across a Bread Cone Recipe, I instantly knew I would try it. I thought it was so elegant and pretty...perfect for bridal showers, birthday parties, reunions, potlucks, picnics or any other special occasion.

For this recipe, I stayed true to the original recipe and didn't change a thing! Ok, I admit that I didn't have the cream horn tubes that are essential for this recipe. I once saw an alternative for making cream horns without the tubes in a Cuisine at Home magazine. They used ice cream sugar cones and wrapped them in aluminum foil. Now, I wasn't going to go buy any ice cream cones to make this. So, I came up with using card stock paper... actually they were fliers that I received in the mail :)!I formed cones and then I wrapped them in aluminum foil. They worked like a charm... I was sooo happy!

Make sure you grease the aluminum foil well and they will come right out with no problem. I had so much fun making these cute bread cones...they were delicious! I filled them with my own version of tuna salad...but you can fill them with whatever filling you like. You will need to stuff them well so they reach the bottom of the cone. I loved the bread flavor....an awesome recipe that I highly recommend! The recipe makes 8 large bread cones...I think next time I would like to make a smaller version...make 16 instead. Let me know if you try them. Hope you enjoy... 

You will need: adapted from www.thekneadforbread.com... link no longer available.
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour (I used only 3 1/2)

Egg wash:1 egg
1 tablespoon milk


1.Pour the milk and water into a saucepan and heat to a scald.Pour this into a large bowl (I used my kitchen aid bowl since I was going to knead it using the mixer), allow to cool to lukewarm.
2. Add in the oil, sugar and salt; mix with a wooden spoon till well blended.
3. Add in the beaten egg and 2 cups of flour; mix till smooth with a wooden spoon.
4. Add in the instant yeast and mix.
5. Allow to sit for 10 minutes uncovered. Now, start to slowly add in more flour. I added 1 1/2 cups...a total of 3 1/2 cups of flour. I used my Kitchen Aid to do the mixing...I kneaded the dough for 6-8 minutes.
6. Add a tablespoon of oil to a clean bowl and place the dough into the bowl. Turn over a few times to lightly coat all sides of the dough with the oil.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest till the dough doubles in bulk, about 1 hour.
8.While the dough is rising, make the cones. That is if you don't have any. If you do...ah, take a break:)
9. Make the cones out of card stock paper material or fliers that are a bit more sturdier.
10. Tape the cones and then cover them well with aluminum foil, so that no paper shows.
11. Set them aside.
12. Remove dough and knead a few time to release the gas. Now cut the dough into 8 pieces.
13. Use a scale to make sure each piece is equal in weight(I didn't do this since I don't have a scale).
14. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. Take each piece of dough and roll into a 36 inch rope.
15. Roll the dough ropes around the greased 6 inch cream horn tubes.
16. Place onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with the egg glaze. Sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds(or both).
17. Cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 30 minutes in a warm environment.
18. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20 - 22 minutes or till golden brown(mine took about 18 minutes).
19. Place onto a wire rack and allow to cool for a couple minutes before removing the tubes.
20. Fill them with your favorite filling and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Shepherd's Pie...Gordon Ramsay's Version

Shepherd's Pie...Gordon Ramsay's version. This recipe is ideal to make when you have leftover mashed potatoes from the previous day. This dish is traditionally made with ground lamb, but I have often made it with ground turkey or ground beef. It doesn't take that long to prepare and actually you can assemble it the morning of..... and bake it later for lunch or dinner. You can easily add different vegetables to the shepherd's pie. I often like to add corn, peas, mushrooms etc... I have been wanting to make Gordon Ramsay's version for some time now. I thought it would be perfect to make this recipe on a cold/rainy. So when we had some rainy/cold weather this past week, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to finally make it. I did try to stay as close to the recipe as possible:). But, I know my husband loves mushrooms so I added them as a layer. I chose to sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on top of the mashed potatoes...they formed a baked cheese layer. If you don't care for the cheese layer just skip it all together. I used slightly less meat and therefore I adjusted the amounts of some of the other ingredients. The wine in the recipe definitely brings a whole deal of flavor. I am sure you can omit the wine, if you don't have any, with some more chicken stock..... The flavors of the shepherd's pie were just wonderful. I will definitely be making this again...

You will need: Somewhat adapted from Gordon Ramsay's Shepherd's Pie

1 1/2 lbs very lean ground beef (or lamb)
1 TBS olive oil
1/2 large onion, grated
1 large carrot, grated
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
2 TBS tomato paste
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped rosemary(I used dry)
1/2-3/4 cups red wine
1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp salt, or to taste
Other layers:
1 -1/2 cups baby bella mushrooms
3 cups mashed potatoes
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Clean and slice mushrooms.Heat a non stick skillet with about 2 tsp olive oil add sliced mushrooms.
Season with some salt and pepper. Cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated.
Set aside. Grate onion, carrots and garlic. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil, stir fry beef until no longer pink.
Drain off excess grease. Add onion, garlic, and carrot and stir fry for 3-5 minutes.

Add Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Season with thyme and rosemary and cook for about 1 minute.
Add wine and simmer until wine has almost evaporated.
Add the broth and simmer for 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Transfer beef to a deep dish....you can use an 8x8 square pan or you can make individual servings as I did.
Layer some mushrooms on top of the beef.

Spoon mashed potato on top of beef.
Sprinkle with 1 T grated Parmesan cheese and 1 TBS of your favorite grated cheese(mozzarella,cheddar,etc...). Bake in a 375° F oven for 20 minutes or until top is brown and heated through.